"My visual work is based primarily on improvisation - on following the pen rather than preconceiving - and on loose associations. My many mistakes are guideposts which determine where a drawing goes next. I create as a way to process darkness into something tangible, something able to be crumpled, something funny and/or laughable."
In Willoughby, Ohio there is a white hut on the side of the road and they sell handmade ice cream in store bought waffle cones. They do not have Superman flavored ice cream.
If your shoes do not have laces, they can’t come untied on the escalator. If your coat doesn’t have buttons, they can’t fall off on the train and roll under a stranger’s seat.
This last year or so has been pretty tough for a lot of people, and it never hurts to be nice.
“Blazing fires,” yelled the Preacher. “Blazing fires will purify you! Just go on– walk through them a sinner and exit a saint!”
We smiled and we clapped.
The next day, we all lit our homes on fire and strode through our front doors into the flames.
Oh, how it hurt! How it burned– how we melted! We all rolled on the ground, writhing and screaming.
The Preacher tore off his face and his bloody skull laughed at us from our front yards.
THE HOSPITAL ROOM
The Hand of God reaches down into my shadowy inferno and yanks me out like an elevator going up, up, up.
I am a prophet and no prophets need eyes. We see the darkness and walk through heavenly fire.
So, I blindfold myself with white bandages.
A black serpent has curled up inside my head. I feel it inhaling my clean air then exhaling its own polluted smoke into my lungs.
On a Friday, I tried to gouge out my eyes so it could escape from my skull.
Despite all the blood, it still hasn’t moved.
As a gift for my sacrifice, the Hand of God touched my blackened eyes and taught me how to see like angels do.
I awoke on a Sunday in a white room dressed in a white robe.
“I’m not only an illustrator but also a writer, so I love to start my drawings from a story. I mix drawings and stories to create new imagery and I like to mix memories of childhood with current experiences. For this, I often find myself drawing ambiances totally dreamlike and surreal. I want to create in my illustrations new worlds, new sensations. I like to work with geometric shapes, soft lines and I also love colors. I think they are an essential part of my illustrations - without these would not exist.
'My Girls'is the new project I'm making here in Berlin. It is constantly evolving and I feel that within these images there is a lot of the city that is welcoming me at this time. This is also a project for women, portraying the feminine beauty that falls in love, moves and grows with the surrounding environment. It tries to make explicit that the beauty of the female body can be both disarming and elegant (even with a few pounds more). With 'My Girls' I try to talk about all the female eyes that I meet every day, which help me to look at reality with a perspective I had not imagined."
Alyssa creates all sorts of amazing things. We've chosen to feature her Femmes & Flowers coloring book zine, but click on through to her portfolio or shop at the links below for some more wonderful work!
Alyssa Giannini is a Lancaster, PA native living in Olympia, WA. Her Femmes & Flowers Coloring Book zine took over 60 hours to illustrate, proving to be the most involved zine she's worked on in her half a decade as a zinester. She is passionate about creating, caring for plants, snail mail, diy music and dad jokes. You can buy this zine and many others in her etsy shop, and check out her portfolio for a glimpse at her other work, or to commission some art.
giada cattaneo is an italian illustrator and word-lover with a strong italian accent. some call her "honey jade". she momved to miami after completing her bachelor's degree in history of contemporary art at the university of bolgna. she is passionate, positive and colourful. see more of her work here.
Mai Visti e Altre Storie continues!
On October 27th, the exhibition Archiving Strategies will open at the Arteco Temporary Space. The exhibit is included in the wider context of Nesxt, an observatory in progress about the no-profit sphere intended as a fundamental and necessary area of the Art system - an independent research and experimentation zone in an incessant metamorphosis.
Archiving, recording, cataloging and preserving are common words in the context of contemporary artistic practice, conveying not only the necessity of transmission of memory, but also touching on varieties of reception.
In the rooms of an empty house hosting the Arteco Temporary Space, original artworks from artists belonging to the Mai Visti e Altre Storie archive show a plurality of archiving practices that start with the necessity of preserving memories of daily-use objects through musealization, presented here in the photographic and cataloging objects of the Museum of Anthropology and Etnography of the University of Turin. Liliana Macario who "knits the weave" of her own memories into a unique, long scarf, takes an intimate approach to memory. Also on display is the extremely declared strategy pursued by Gaetano Carusotto through unfinished writing. You'll also find patiently created artworks by Ernesto Levesque, in which text and watercolour have a dialogue.
Mai Visti e Altre Storie (Never Seen and Other Stories) is an archive preserving and enhancing Outsider Art in the Piedmont area. It provides opportunities to reflect on the permeability of the boundaries between concepts as mainstream and outsider, commonness and abnormality, considering art and culture as shared heritage and instruments for active citizenship. Click HERE for a full list of partners and to learn more.
"I’m a Brooklyn based illustrator who currently freelances full-time from my home in the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. I received my BFA in Studio Art and Design in 2011 and have resided in New York City for the last 5 years. My work has been featured on Brit + Co, Brooklyn Magazine, Timeout New York, Design Crush, and Brightest Young Things, among others. My clients include Curbed, Urban Outfitters, Valley Cruise Press, and Country Living.
My work explores the interaction of physical and emotional spaces as well as the ephemeral aspect of each, primarily the notion of home. A person’s care and attention can infuse an existing physical place with an immeasurable but tangible energy. I’m interested in this transformation as well as the evolution of the relationship over time. The idea of “making space,” both by claiming a physical space as your own as well as creating a space for yourself from nothing, are central in my work.
My illustrations feature scenes from my own living space and neighborhood with themes of familiarity, comfort, and repetition. My images depict commonplace scenes and settings with the aim to celebrate the small contentments that constitute daily life as well as the fleeting and changing definition of the places we call home."
1. Let’s maybe start by learning a bit more about you. When and why are you smiling the most? How do you spend a night at home? Is there something in the world (tangible or not) that you hold especially dear?
I’m very much a creature of habit, so simple things bring me a lot of joy. Waking up with the sun shining, a breeze coming in the window, a pot of coffee, and a book in bed is a perfect morning for me. If I’m not working on a deadline, a typical night would be ordering food (I don’t like cooking! I’m just going to finally admit it!) and watching something on TV with my boyfriend and our two cats. The best is when both cats come to sit on the couch with us. I really enjoy being home and in my own space.
I’m rather minimal, so the things I do have around are all very important. I have two kachina dolls that come to mind. My parents got them in New Mexico at some point and I always remember them being present in our home over the years, even as we moved to different houses or places. Now I have them on our dresser and I love seeing them every day. I have a tattoo of one of them on my arm that I got in Santa Fe last year!
2. We discovered your work on Instagram through your Brooklyn Bodega Cats series. I actually jumped up and down with glee when I found it. Can you tell us a bit about what inspired it? Are the illustrated cats based on real ones? If so, are you constantly staking out bodegas for feline friends?
That’s so nice, I can only hope that everyone has that positive of a reaction! I started that project in 2014. All of the cats and stores are based entirely on real places, though some of the bodegas have closed or changed names since I illustrated them. It can be hard to keep up with how fast Brooklyn is growing and changing.
Many of the corner stores in New York City have resident cats who live at the store in exchange for keeping away bugs and vermin. It’s not uncommon to walk into a bodega and see a cat sauntering down the aisles or snoozing on a shelf. But when I first moved to Brooklyn in 2011, I was absolutely amazed to discover this unspoken fact of the city. I wanted a way to showcase and share the cats I met while also tying the project into my illustration work. The response has been very positive which makes it all the more fun. People are very passionate about their neighborhoods and thus, the stores and cats in them. It’s been a fun way to explore and connect with people. I’ve even turned two of the cats into enamel pins with Valley Cruise Press. Check those out here!
I am definitely always on the lookout for new kitties when I’m out and about. But I think it’s an unspoken rule of the universe that I shall never find a bodega cat when I’m actively looking. Whenever I go out with the intention of finding a new cat I usually come up empty. It’s the times when I pop into a store on my way somewhere or to use the ATM that I run into a new kitty. That’s what’s fun about it though - finding a new cat feels like an unexpected, exciting accomplishment!
3. What are your favourite things to illustrate? Is there anything particularly important to your creative process? Have there been any particularly defining moments in your development as an artist? In what ways does your personality come through in your work?
I of course love drawing cats! I also like illustrating buildings, either exterior or interior. It’s quite satisfying to create a sense of space out of nothing. I like that illustrating an interior can draw someone into a room that, while not real, feels as though it can be inhabited and experienced. I take a lot of inspiration from my own apartment and the homes I’ve lived. In this way, I can create something that feels familiar and comfortable but also unknowable - perhaps a place that exists in a parallel universe to our own.
I actually haven’t found anything that I particularly dislike drawing. I used to shy away from drawing people, bodies, hands, etc and I told myself I didn't want to After some assignments that included drawing these things, I found I rather liked it!
Anytime I’ve pushed myself to do something out of my comfort zone (such as the above) I’ve found that it’s a positive step forward and helps me to improve as an artist and creative person. The only way to get good at something is to do it over and over!
4. Your illustrations carry this curious sense of adventure, so I think I want to end the interview fairly open-ended by asking you to tell us about a personal adventure of your choice (of any scale).
I suppose most of my childhood could be considered an adventure! I grew up up in southern Colorado in a place called The San Luis Valley. The valley is about 100 miles across, surrounded on three sides by mountains and opening on the south to New Mexico. It’s a very beautiful area but also quite isolated and rural. I think it made for a very unique childhood in that I lived in the mountains and spent a lot of time outside, exploring on day trips or camping. My dad did a lot of hunting so I sometimes tagged along for that as well.
Many artists live in the valley and some believe there is a vortex in the area that draws people in and has a special energy force. It’s also a hotbed for UFO sightings and activity. This was the location of the infamous Snippy the Horse case in 1967. You can even visit the UFO Watchtower on the eastern edge of the valley, not far from The Great Sand Dunes National Monument. It’s a place like no other. Growing up in such an unusual and beautiful place was a great adventure and one I often miss as an adult living in the city.
AN INTERVIEW WITH EMMA AHLQVIST
1. some of your illustrations are based on novels. we're huge bookworms, so are wondering who some of your favourite authors are and why? how does literature serve as a creative prompt for you?
I have a strong interest in literature and I love working on design and illustration projects that is inspired by fiction. When I illustrate a book I like to focus on the atmosphere or theme rather than a specific scene. One of my favourite books that inspired an illustration project a couple of years ago is White Noise by Don DeLillo. I love the humour, the dialogue and how it reflects on postmodern life. I also read a lot of Swedish books and I don’t know if many of them are even translated into English. One of the most originally beautiful books that I know is Sweetness by Torgny Lindgren. It is a story about two brothers who no longer meet or speak. They are both very ill and dying and hate the other one with a vengeance. The language is extremely considered and beautiful at the same time as it describes things that are so repulsive that you almost want to put down the book. It would be a great challenge to illustrate.
2. we see you have a graphic novel coming out in 2016. can you tell us a bit about it?
The title of this book is still to be confirmed, but it is a story about a girl who has recently finished school and still lives at home with her dad and sister in a small town in the middle of the forest. She spends a lot of time writing on her blog and dreaming of being discovered by someone. She wants nothing more than moving away to a big city. It is about mundane, everyday life, and how we all think we need to grow up to become something special. I didn’t actually know what a blog was when I was the same age as the character but I guess it is still inspired by my own experiences growing up in a small village in the south of Sweden. I am self-publishing the book and I will start selling it at ELCAF in London on the 10th of June as well as on my website. Keep your eyes peeled.
3. you're also a photographer - what is your favourite camera? what sorts of objects/subjects catch your eye?
I love to document places and environments, focusing on the unexpected details. I think I often photograph things that are overlooked or considered ugly by most people. I am currently working on a photo book about Sweden where I am juxtaposing idyllic nature scenes with photographs of industrial areas. I have also recently started to get into food photography and I even started a food blog because I love cooking, eating and photographing food.
I mainly use old school 35mm film and currently my go to camera is an Olympus om20.
4. there is a spectacular illustration called "wild trump" on your website. what are your thoughts on donald?
That illustration was too easy to draw because he is a real life caricature! Donald is terrifying, and he’s just going wild in politics. He is not following the rules and unfortunately it is working for him. When he started his political campaign a lot of people were laughing at him and thinking of him as a joke. Now we’ve all started to get a bit scared, I think that he is so dangerous because he knows that he can do and say anything and the people that vote for him will not care, he will still have their votes.
5. let's speculate. you can create anything for anyone. what is your dream project and why?
That is a very difficult question. The first thing I though of was that I would just like to create my own graphic stories. As a designer I often work for or collaborate with other people. It is really fun to be part of a team and it pays the bills but in between that I want to work on my own projects where I’m the boss. Saying that, there are loads of jobs I dream of, such as working as a graphic designer for film. I love the work that Graphic Designer Annie Atkins did for The Grand Budapest Hotel and getting a project like that would be absolutely amazing.